“It will never be enough until the last survivor is gone'

Germany to hike homecare funding for Holocaust survivors by $105 million next year

Announcement comes following latest round of negotiations between Claims Conference and Berlin, which also agrees to keep hardship fund going until 2027

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Stuart Eizenstat, a negotiator for the Claims Conference, negotiates with German government officials in Berlin, Germany on May 9, 2023. (Courtesy of the Claims Conference)
Stuart Eizenstat, a negotiator for the Claims Conference, negotiates with German government officials in Berlin, Germany on May 9, 2023. (Courtesy of the Claims Conference)

The German government has said that it will allocate nearly $900 million next year toward funding homecare services for Holocaust survivors, promising to increase its commitment by over $100 million to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population after a year of spiking inflation.

Germany has also agreed to extend reparation grants for Jewish ex-refugees from the former Soviet Union, according to an update from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, which is an organization representing Jewish interests in reparation negotiations with Germany.

The approximately $888 million Germany is earmarking for homecare in 2024 constitutes a 13% jump over the $783 million in planned funding this year.

It will also pay the Claims Conference $175 million next year to distribute among about 128,000 recipients of Germany’s Hardship Fund. The fund is intended for Jews who successfully fled the rise of Nazi Germany and the systematic killing of Europe’s Jews, but still suffered despite not being imprisoned. Each individual Hardship Fund compensation recipient will get about $1,350 next year.

Grants of roughly that value will continue to be paid out annually to living Hardship Fund recipients until the end of 2027, the Claims Conference said in the update, which followed the conclusion of a fresh round of negotiations.

The total sum for the Hardship Fund grants paid out by the end of 2027 will depend on the number of recipients, the youngest of whom are now about 80 years old. The Claims Conference expects to distribute about $500 million in Hardship Fund grants by the end of 2027.

For some, especially thousands of elderly recipients living in the former Soviet Union, a cash boost of over $1,000 can mean a dramatic quality-of-life upgrade for a year or longer.

“Being able to ensure direct payments to survivors in addition to the expansions to the social welfare services we are able to fund is essential in making sure every Holocaust survivor is taken care of for as long as it is required, addressing each individual need,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference.

Esfir (Esther) Gendelman, a Ukrainian Jew who had to flee her home from the Nazis, receives a package from an aid provider of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in Chisinau, Moldova in March 2022. (Courtesy of IFCJ)

In total, the Claims Conference will distribute about $1.4 billion in German reparation money in 2024, a 7.7% jump over the $1.3 billion being distributed this year. Some of that total sum goes to recipients of a monthly pension as compensation for their imprisonment or torture by the Nazis, a compensation category known as Article Two.

“Every negotiation is a near-last opportunity to ensure survivors of the Holocaust are receiving some measure of justice,” Stuart Eizenstat, a negotiator for the Claims Conference and a former US deputy secretary of the treasury, said in a statement. “It will never be enough until the last survivor has taken their last breath,” he added.

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